ASTON VILLA (6) vs BLACKBURN (4) Aston Villa win 7-4 on agg
ASTON VILLA fought back from two goals down to book their place in the Carling Cup final following an astonishing goal feast with ten-man Blackburn at Villa Park.
Two early strikes from Nikola Kalinic saw Rovers quickly overturn Villa’s 1-0 first-leg advantage before the hosts finally prevailed in a rollercoaster cup tie.
Kalinic’s predatory finishes were no less than Rovers deserved after a lively opening, but when their former player Stephen Warnock halved the deficit on the half-hour mark, it was very much game on.
The turning point, however, came 10 minutes later when Rovers defender Chris Samba was sent off for a professional foul on Gabriel Agbonlahor and James Milner slotted home the resulting penalty.
Villa then began to run riot after the break with Steven Nzonzi unfortunately bundling into his own net before Agbonlahor gave Martin O’Neill’s men a 4-2 lead, deflecting Milner’s drive into the bottom corner.
Heskey then rifled home a fifth, but Blackburn refused to give up – Martin Olsson’s brilliant overhead kick and then Brett Emerton’s deflected effort reducing the arrears to 5-4.
But Ashley Young ensured there was no late drama, coolly finishing the tenth goal of the night to book his side a Wembley date with either Manchester City or Manchester United on 28 February.
Relieved O’Neill said: “I’m absolutely delighted with the players, we fought back magnificently. We started off very nervously indeed and conceded a couple of really soft goals but came roaring back into the game.
“When they scored their second goal to go 2-0 in front Wembley seemed a fair distance away at that stage but great credit to the players and I’m delighted for them.”